• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Swiss fury over Saab 'meddling' in Gripen vote

TT/AFP/The Local · 22 Jan 2014, 08:40

Published: 22 Jan 2014 08:40 GMT+01:00

Swiss Social Democratic MP Evi Allemann claims that Saab has been quietly financing campaigners in favour of the deal, worth an estimated 3.1 billion Swiss francs ($3.47 billion).

While Saab's support of the pro-Gripen campaign may not be technically illegal, Allemann sees the Swedish firm's behaviour as bordering on scandalous.

"We don't have any clear rules for referendum campaigns, as a result, foreign companies feel they can shamelessly get involved in national decisions," she told the TT news agency.

Saab has neither confirmed nor denied the accusations, citing Swiss rules which "also include refraining from comment on campaign financing".

But the accusations of Saab's involvement has also caused concern among those who support the deal, with the leader of the liberal FDP party, Philpp Müller, calling such actions "counterproductive".

"It makes it harder for us centre-right politicians to convince people of the importance of the Gripen purchase," Müller told Swiss newspaper Blick.

The developments come following a decision taken last week that a referendum on the deal would be held on May 18th. Opponents submitted over 100,000 signatures seeking a referendum, with campaigners hoping to block the Gripen deal.

Under Switzerland's system of direct democracy, citizens can have the last word on a huge array of issues if campaigners muster enough signatures from voters in order to force a plebiscite.

Polls have shown that a majority of voters oppose the Gripen deal.

Approved by the government in 2011 and backed by parliament last year, it cannot be blocked as such.

But opponents have been able to contest the law that allows the purchase to be funded by drawing an annual 300 million Swiss francs from the army's budget over 10 years.

The coalition campaigning against the deal is steered by the left-leaning Socialists and Greens, as well as anti-militarists, but also includes economic liberals opposed to the price tag.

The opponents also argue that the model of Gripen chosen by the authorities only exists on paper, as its maker, Sweden's Saab, is still developing it.

Story continues below…

Last month, Saab's Gripen beat the Rafale, made by France's Dassault, and the F/A 18 Super Hornet built by US company McDonnell Douglas in the race to sell 36 planes to Brazil.

The estimated value of the Brazil deal is $5 billion.

The air force of neutral Switzerland currently has 32 Super Hornets in service, purchased in 1996.

There are currently 166 Gripen fighters in service globally, with 100 in Sweden, 26 in South Africa, 14 each in the Czech Republic and Hungary, and 12 in Thailand, according to Saab.

TT/AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Sweden on standby to help earthquake-hit Italy
Rescue workers search through the debris. Photo: AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi

Swedish authorities are ready, if asked, to quickly assist Italy as it recovers from a deadly earthquake.

We harmed Sweden's teachers and should apologize: prof
A tired pupil at a school in Stockholm. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

"The situation is very worrying," says Professor Jonas Linderoth.

US keeper kicked off team for calling Swedes cowards
Hope Solo made her comments after Sweden knocked the US team out of the Olympics. Photo: Eugenio Savio/AP

The US team will be Hope-less for six months.

Five must-see cultural events in Sweden this weekend
Like The Bridge? You'll love one of the events we've picked out for this weekend. Photo: Erland Vinberg/TT

The summer is almost over but Sweden saved the best for last with these cultural events this weekend – including one that will make The Bridge fans happy.

Was there a secret plot to kill Swedish ex-UN chief?
Dag Hammarskjöld, the UN's Secretary General, pictured months before his death in 1961. Photo: TT

Ban Ki-moon wants to find out.

Joe Biden to arrive in Sweden for refugee talks
Stefan Löfven meets Joe Biden during a visit to Washington in March 2015. Photo: Monica Enqvist/Government Offices of Sweden

US Vice President Joe Biden will arrive in Stockholm on Wednesday evening ahead of talks with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven that are expected to focus on migration and refugees.

Boy who attacked goalkeeper 'bet thousands' on game
Photo: Mikael Fritzon/TT

A 17-year-old boy who stormed the pitch and attacked a goalkeeper in Sweden’s top division earlier this month has claimed he had placed a large bet on the result.

Furious fireman lashes out at Malmö car arsonists
Firefighters battle a blaze in Malmö earlier this month. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

A fireman in Malmö has won praise across Sweden for calling out arsonists on the “bullshit” reasons behind a spate of car fires in the southern city.

See Stockholm spectacularly change through the seasons
A bright autumn day in Stockholm. Photo: Delphine Fortin

In order to help her long-distance relationship, one Stockholm-based blogger produced a fascinating visual illustration of the Swedish capital throughout the seasons.

Groped woman had 'gigantic breasts' - player cleared
File image (2010) of Björklöven players in a huddle. Photo: public domain

A former prosector said the reasoning was "absurd" and "illegitimate".

Sponsored Article
Malmö to host global skateboard championship
Gallery
People-watching: August 24th
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
The Local Voices
'I want to be a businesswoman but I don’t care about money'
National
Experts: Gothenburg grenade blast is 'part of a cycle of violence'
Blog updates

23 August

A Summer in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"For our first year here in Sweden we decided to have all our holidays in Sweden.…" READ »

 

22 July

After the horror, carry on regardless (Globally Local) »

"This time last week, we were just digesting the horror of the Nice killings, in which…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
The mystique of Asia - in the middle of Stockholm
Gallery
Property of the week: Karlsborg
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
National
Why Sweden could change its criticised detention laws
National
Watch this dog's reaction when she tries Swedish fermented herring
Gallery
People-watching: August 19th-21st
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
How to find student housing in Sweden
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
National
VIDEO: Swede films first Northern Lights of the season
Gallery
People-watching: August 17th
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Society
Swedish population nears ten million
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
The Local Voices
This Syrian artist found love in a Swedish library
National
Sex pigs halt traffic after laser attack on Pokémon teens. Only in Sweden.
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
Gallery
Property of the week: Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
Drunk knight detained in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Can you solve this Swede's strange Star Wars mystery?
Gallery
People-watching: August 12th-14th
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
Swedes cheer first snow of the season
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Gallery
People-watching: August 10th
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
The Local Voices
Syrian presenter: Swedish media should make more shows in Arabic
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Travel
Watch the meteor shower in Sweden
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Lifestyle
How to survive a crayfish party
Gallery
IN PICS: Your Sweden summer snaps
The Local Voices
Gabriel mastered Swedish and got accepted onto a medicine degree in just 7 months
3,361
jobs available